Texas Boys' Lacrosse State Championships Preview

The most anticipated weekend in Texas high school boys' lacrosse is finally here as the THSLL State Championships commence on Saturday. In boys' action, four North District powers battle it on Saturday at Woodforest Bank Stadium in Shenandoah ahead of Sunday's pinnacle contest. While St. Mark's enters as the slight favorite, fellow semifinalists Coppell, Dallas Jesuit and Episcopal Dallas are all capable of taking the crown making for what should be an unpredictable and thrilling Final Four.

Boys' Division I Final Four

For the first time in history, four teams from the North District face off in the state semifinals, proving that the Dallas Region is home to the state's top lacrosse programs in '11. In the opening game of the day, longtime rivals Episcopal Dallas and Dallas Jesuit go head-to-head starting at 2 PM.

Earlier this season, Dallas Jesuit easily dispatched Episcopal by the score of 14-6 back on April 12. While the defeat came sandwiched between a pair of one-goal losses to St. Mark's for Episcopal, this weekend's semifinal rematch figures to be neck-and-neck.

On Sunday, the Eagles (14-6) avenged an earlier season defeat to Austin by taking the quarterfinal game against the Maroons, 8-4. The Eagles may look to neutralize Jesuit's strong attack by using a similar game plan that worked quite well against Austin this week. In that match-up, by taking away key passing lanes and applying constant pressure against Austin's top weapons, Episcopal forced the Maroons into a 0-for-5 performance on the extra-man and its second-lowest goal output of the season.

Steady midfielder James Collins has emerged as a leader this season and is fresh off of a four-point performance against Austin. Look for the senior to set the tone for Episcopal from the very onset.

Meanwhile, Jesuit (16-2) should once again be a tall order for Episcopal. The high-flying Rangers are playing some of their best lacrosse of the season and enter the semifinals riding a seven-game winning streak.

Over the weekend, the Rangers crushed Anderson by 11 goals before posting a two-goal win over a pesky Kingwood team to reach the Final Four. Attackman Buck McClure has developed into one of the state's biggest scoring threats and has continued his dynamic play in the postseason. Last week, McClure tallied three goals and four assists to key Jesuit's quarterfinal victory over Kingwood.

If the Eagles can slow down the pace and keep McClure and teammate Richie Sapp from getting out on transition breaks and receiving high-percentage looks, they should be in a good position to win this game. On the other hand, if the Rangers can initiate their brand of aggressive defense and quick-strike offense en route to an early lead, look for them to make it 10 wins in a row.

In the other semifinal contest of the day, top-seed St. Mark's goes up against Coppell in a rematch of a thriller played on April 11. In that contest, Coppell midfielder Tyler Landis netted the game-winner with 2:16 left in overtime to send his team to the 7-6 victory and hand St. Mark's its first and only loss of the season.

The shifty Landis is expected to play a major role in Saturday's rematch through his scoring and overall playmaking abilities. The Brown recruit has also stepped up big for his team during key moments this season, whether it be netting clutch goals or providing necessary leadership skills down the stretch.

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